Thursday, May 4, 2017

Barefoot in the Park - A Review

The following is a review of the play "Barefoot in the Park" by Mike Lee. This was originally published in the Boise State University student Newspaper (The Arbiter) in the Fall of 2007.

BSU’s recent presentation of the play, ‘Barefoot in the Park’ was a

waste of time. With a dysfunctional and codependent relationship as the main focus, a

lonely mother as ‘plot line 2’ and a telephone repair man who’s eerie counseling mirrors

Yoda – I was more than disappointed in the story of this supposed ‘theatre classic.’ I felt

the actors involved were talented, the stage sets were constructed well and the overall

spectacle of the performance was adequate; but all in all what’s  the point if you’re telling

a crappy story? Mix in a plot line reminiscent of the worst of soap operas, one-

dimensionality from every character in the performance and clocking in at just 2 hours

and 15 minutes…you’ve got guaranteed nap fodder on your hands. (I was astounded at

the ability of these actors to memorize a completely unnecessary, but undoubtedly phone-

book size script and recite these painful lines virtually flawlessly….of course I would

have been more entertained if the actors actually had just recited our local phone book.)

Without mincing words, I thought ‘Barefoot in the Park’ sucked.

Question: So what is the story behind ‘Barefoot in the Park?’ Answer: The never-

ending bickering between two newly weds. Over a matter of several days they end up at

each others throats; and declare divorce. This of course begs several expositional

questions of these characters; how long were they together before they got married, did

they seek any professional counseling before they became engaged – and finally, why

aren’t the two of them heavily medicated/institutionalized?

In 2007, dysfunctional relationships are the norm. I can flip on reality TV and

virtually watch ‘Barefoot in the Park’ unfold in front of a national audience. When it was

written in the 60’s, it may have been touching or funny – the word ‘divorce’ probably

shocked audiences during its original runs, but today it’s almost a snapshot of

American realism.

So what could have improved the story element - which is my biggest gripe with

the play as a whole….(my second biggest gripe is the uncomfortable chairs I was forced

to sit in for 2 hours and 15 minutes.) Several ideas came to mind after the performance

that could have improved the story of ‘Barefoot in the Park’:

1)      Re-imagine the backdrop of this play taking place during a nuclear zombie-infested holocaust.

2)      Have Corie turn into an alien by the end of the play, and suck the brains out of her husband Paul through a straw in his ear.

3)      Ended the play a little sooner; maybe like 2 hours sooner?

In closing I would like to state that I appreciate good theatre. I appreciate good

art and good live performance as well. But, the key term is ‘good.’ Just because

something is ‘independent,’ ‘scholastic,’ or  ‘art’ doesn’t mean that the faculty should

make excuses for why it sucks. Time is money – and if a live performance is not

gripping, does not captivate its audience and is poorly created; than it should not be

invested in or performed. Running at 2 hour and 15 minutes, “Barefoot in the Park’

definitely had the opportunity to impress its audience….instead I found myself clapping

at the conclusion, and not because I enjoyed the play – but because it was finally over


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